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Two Major Green Projects Moving Forward

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After years of political battles, two major projects are moving forward here in Irvine. Both projects will bring even more green spaces to our City, with the addition of new walking, biking, and hiking trails for the entire Irvine community to enjoy.

THE GATEWAY PRESERVE

On November 15th, the All American Asphalt plant — Irvine’s largest industrial polluter — was permanently closed. For the past several years, north Irvine residents have faced a number of health concerns resulting from the plant’s noxious odors and chemical emissions. The problem had become so dire that many parents refused to let their children play outside.

Families affected by the asphalt plant’s emissions held protests, called City officials to lodge complaints, and attended Council meetings to demand action. For nearly two years, Councilman Larry Agran was the only member of the City Council who listened to the residents’ concerns and advocated on their behalf. Through sheer determination and perseverance, Agran and the residents prevailed in convincing the City to do the right thing.

In a remarkable victory for north Irvine residents, the City acquired the 12-acre asphalt plant and closed it down. The property will now be restored to its natural state, and become part of a nearly 700-acre “Gateway Preserve.”  The Gateway Preserve will include an extension of the Jeffrey Open Space Trail to the City’s northern open space; new hiking and biking trails; native habitat restoration areas; and two parks featuring interpretive displays, native gardens and other amenities.

VETERANS MEMORIAL PARK & GARDENS

For nearly six decades, the 125-acre “ARDA” site — located within what is now our 1,300-acre Great Park — was an integral part of the iconic Marine Corps Air Station at El Toro (MCAS El Toro). Our community was home to thousands of military personnel and their families long before Irvine became a city.

Soon after MCAS El Toro was decommissioned, the City of Irvine publicly committed to transforming the ARDA site into a Veterans Memorial Park & Cemetery as a lasting tribute to the service and sacrifice of our veterans, and to honor all who served at the historic air station.

After his Council colleagues kicked the matter of a Veterans Cemetery to the California State Legislature in 2021, Councilman Agran submitted a proposal for construction of a beautiful Veterans Memorial Park & Gardens on the ARDA site — filled with thousands of trees; a walking trail that includes memorial installations; preservation of the aircraft control tower; and memorial gardens.

For nearly two years, the Council blocked Agran from even putting his proposal on the Council agenda for a public discussion. Refusing to give up, Councilman Agran persisted in his efforts to implement the will of the voters … and to make good on the promise Irvine made to veterans and their families more than a decade ago.

Once again, Agran’s perseverance paid off. Earlier this year, he won Council approval for the project. Since then, the abandoned ARDA site — which had become an eyesore for nearby residents — has been cleared. Preliminary construction of the Veterans Memorial Park and its various features will soon be underway.

This is yet another win-win for the Irvine community. Not only will the Veterans Memorial Park & Gardens serve to honor our veterans and their families; the 125-acre Veterans Memorial Park — within our 1,300-acre Great Park — will also bring more green space to our beautiful City.

Franklin J. Lunding

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